By Tamar Honig
In today’s tough economic climate, it is more important than ever to be financially aware. Financial know-how is a vital life skill that many high school kids – not to mention a fair amount of grown adults – lack. However, this certainly cannot be said of one enthusiastic bunch of brains right here at Briarcliff High School: members of the up-and-coming Finance Club.
Finance Club is now embarking on its second year of existence. Founder and President Joe Pennacchio discusses that after running informally last year without any funding and with an unpaid advisor, the club will be getting funding this year, and math teacher Mrs. Murphy will be the official teacher adviser. As for his motivation in creating the club in September 2011, his sophomore year, Joe describes himself as very interested in math to begin with, and explains that “finance offers a natural connection to math in the real world.” After running unofficially for a year without school funding, the club garnered sufficient membership to be effectively run. All club members are very proud of the impressive membership that Finance Club has generated in just a single year and rightfully so. As for how this was accomplished, Joe relates: “I put up twelve signs for the first meeting around the school, and two people showed up. We figured that not enough signs were up, and so one weekend, I ran around the school putting up forty-eight signs in just about every place you could put a sign. It worked. Nearly ten people showed up at the following meeting.”
Among those inspired by Joe’s posters to join Finance Club are Sydney Hoff and Jack Fischer, Senior Vice President and Vice President of the club, respectively. Sydney joined due to an interest in pursuing a career in business. After taking Personal Finance as a class last year and enjoying it, she naturally concluded that she would enjoy being a part of this club, as well. Jack, on the other hand, does not plan on a career in finance, but, he is nonetheless fascinated by finance and economics, which drew him to the club.
So what goes on at a typical club meeting? According to members, their bimonthly meetings generally involve stock market simulation games and discussions of current financial news. Right now, teams are being developed for the stock simulation game, and according to Mrs. Murphy, “there’s some healthy competition brewing!” Furthermore, the club occasionally hosts guest speakers at meetings. Last year, members enjoyed phenomenal presentations by Stuart Mattey, the Briarcliff Assistant Superintendant for Business and Technology; Vidur Mittal, club member and Vice President Rishab Mittal’s older brother, who graduated NYU and is beginning to work as an investment banker; and Ben Hoff, Sydney Hoff’s father, who is a financial planner. Finance Club is planning on hosting more guest speakers this year.
While the future of our nation’s economy is always uncertain, that of Finance Club is looking bright indeed. Vice President Jack would like to see the club be more respected and taken more seriously in the BHS community. Fortunately for club members with similar hopes, the club, now with funding from the school, has access to a great deal more money than the $86.10 made at the club’s sole bake sale last year. As for future plans for the prospering club, Joe says: “We will hopefully be able to make trips to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York Stock Exchange. We are also considering raising money to possibly invest in actual stocks under the portfolio of a supervising adult. We also will once again participate in the Wall Street Survivor Stock Market Challenge, and we will prepare to potentially participate in the Federal Reserve Challenge this year, if not next year.” Senior club members such as Sydney lament that they will not be a part of Finance Club next year but fully trust that Joe, and other members will continue to expand the club. Joe plans on building a strong foundation for Finance Club so that it may continue to thrive under new leadership once he has moved on to college.
What is truly remarkable about this recent addition to the BHS club scene is the leg-up it could potentially give its members when it comes time to enter the real world. Along with great snacks and fun financial games, each meeting leaves students with a bit more of a financial edge than they came with. In regard to what she thinks students can gain from being in this club, Mrs. Murphy affirms: “It’s entirely age-appropriate for students to have limited knowledge on the subject [finance], but today there’s such a quick and abrupt transition into financial independence. I’d say that the stakes are higher than they were when I graduated high school and that the economic climate is pretty unforgiving right now. So even an informal head start will make students much more savvy after leaving BHS.”
Interested in acquiring a bit of this valuable financial savvy? Looking for a lucrative use of time? If so, Finance Club welcomes you to come join on the first and third Tuesdays of each month in Room H203!